Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future or getting caught up in making judgments about what’s happening. Doing absolutely nothing – not even thinking – for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment, has transformative power.
Our own MJ Gilmer, the nurse practitioner at Chico’s in Fort Meyers, Fla., taught a 6-week mindfulness course to Chico’s employees that was a runaway success. They had to switch the class to a larger location because so many people signed up for it.
Corporate giants from Google to General Mills have seen better decision making and an increase in the emotional intelligence of their employees by implementing regular workplace mindfulness programs. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was shown to actually recenter the "emotional setpoints" of a group of workers at a high-stress biotech startup.
Media maven Arianna Huffington wrote a column about mindfulness on her Huffington Post blog, and included the following facts and figures:
"According to the World Health Organization, the cost of stress to American businesses is as high as $300 billion. And unless we change course, this will only get worse. Over the last 30 years, self-reported levels of stress have increased 18 percent for women and 25 percent for men."
"In fact, the health effects of meditation can be even more dramatic -- a matter of life and death. Williams points to a National Institutes of Health study that showed a 23 percent decrease in mortality, a 30 percent decrease in death due to cardiovascular problems and a big decrease in cancer mortality as well."
There are plenty of simple and cost-effective ways to implement mindfulness in your workplace, starting with a company-wide mental health assessment. Once a baseline it determined, you can then implement the most fitting stress-reduction activities. The biggest impacts of mindfulness take place in the first month, but you've got to stick with it.
Whether your own workplace mindfulness program is a meditation course or recommended reading, we're glad mindfulness is catching on.